Benefits of Cycling

Why Cycle? You can find clear and concise answers at Why Cycle and Sustrans.

For a more in depth look at the benefits of cycling to individuals and the country as a whole see Cycling England's document Valuing the Benefits of Cycling.
Health

The health benefits of cycling are clear. Sustrans have collated information relevant to Walking and Cycling to School .

Alternatively, BUPA's healthy living summary may be useful.

Or for more detailed information, try the Cycling England report, Cycling and Health - What's the evidence? by Nick Cavill and Dr Adrian Davis. This examines the importance of physical activity for public health, evidence for the specific health effects of cycling, risks of cycling and wide benefits attributable to cycling.
Environmental Benefits
Hopefully these are pretty obvious! More cycling and less driving means less noise and air pollution, less congestion, and fewer harmful greenhouse gas emissions. However, if you would like more detailed information, you could try the following:
Cost
Cycling is practically free - and with the price of fuel rising dramatically recently, there's never been a better time to swap car for bike.

The cost-savings don't just apply to individuals however. The cost of a metre:
  • of The Channel Tunnel, cost £145,320
  • of Widened M6 will cost, £35,000
  • of Widened M1 will cost, £27,000
  • of a cycle lane costs a mere £180.

Cycling Safely

There is a widespread public perception that it is not safe for children to cycle to school – although the evidence suggests differently.
Pre-event publicity and the increased numbers of students cycling is likely to make the cycling environment safer because motorists will need to take greater care. We have and will continue to work with the local authorities (councils and the police) on making improvements to local infrastructure. For this year's event we have to work with what we have, however. Below is information you may find useful - both background to safety issues and specific tips to make your journey to school more enjoyable.

As the natural instinct of a parent is to protect, many young children are now being driven to school to keep them safe. This is often convenient for parents with busy lives and is sometimes their only option. However, it can cause havoc around schools when a high number of cars arrive at the same time, ironically putting children and other pedestrians at more risk. This report suggests that there is a growing generation of "backseat children" in the UK who are - in the long-run - being put in more danger than they are being protected from.

Sustrans have produced some information for parents and schools on Staying Safe on the School Journey.

The first thing you should do is to think about your route. Though some roads between home and school may seem too busy or too fast, there may be an alternative route that is more suitable. You may want to ride routes yourself prior to Bike Week and suggest a preferred option to your child.

When route planning you may find Stroud Valley's Cycle Campaign's recently produced Cycle Map useful. It colour-codes roads according to their 'cycle-ability' - assessed according to traffic levels and gradient.

Sustrans provide an online map which shows National Cycle Network and other traffic-free routes.
Helmets
Helmets are not compulsory, and there is in fact a healthy debate about their benefits and disadvantages. It is recommended that you and your child do your own research and decide for yourselves. If you do choose to wear a Helmet, it is essential that it is fitted properly (get advice in Cytek, Stonehouse Accessories or Noah's Ark), and in good condition. If buying one new, it should conform to one of the following safety standards: BS6863, AS2063.86, ANSIZ90.4, SNELL B90 or B95. It is important to remember that Helmets are a safety aid, not a guarantee of safety, and there is no substitute for careful and responsible riding.

Why Cycle provides background information and extensive links to the arguments for and against helmets .

The CTC (Cyclist's Touring Club, the longest-running cyclists' organisation), also consider a variety of viewpoints on helmets. This includes a summary of recent evidence.
Finally, you can see a clear comparison of the arguments for why you should, or shouldn't wear a helmet..

Hi-Viz, or High-Visibility Jackets

High visibility clothing makes sense in conditions of poor visibility, as does reflective clothing at night. However, dressing in fluorescent yellow is no guarantee that all drivers will treat you with courtesy. Hi-Viz clothing is a safety aid, not a guarantee of safety, and there is no substitute for careful and responsible riding.
Cycle Security / Parking

Secure cycle parking is one of the main concerns for those already cycling to school and those considering it. Facilities are not ideal at any of the seconday schools in the Stroud area. However the schools are looking to improve this and Sustrans provides a leaflet outlining the issues and options.

Cycle Training
Taking part in a professional cycle-training course can increase your safety and enjoyment of cycling. Your child may have taken part in Cycling Proficiency or National Standards Level 1 & 2 training at Primary School. Secondary schools can arrange Level 3 National Standards training with the County Council. Uptake in the Stroud area has in the past not been sufficient for this training to be regular or comprehensive. However, this year the County Council will be providing level 3 training at Archway (week of 13 July), Maidenhill (week of 13 July) and Stroud High School (week of 29 June) and CHANGING GEAR will be actively promoting this.
MechanicsBicycology has an introduction to Beautifully Basic Bike Maintenance and a Beautifully Basic M-Check page, which outlines the things you need to check on your bike.

There is also a simple Bicycology guide to puncture repair.After National Bike Week
We hope that pupils will continue to cycle to school after National Bike Week and that the Changing Gear project will be the start of a process of working towards much better provision for pupils who wish to cycle to school. Statistics suggest that 45% of children want to cycle to school but only 4% actually do, so there is plenty of work to do! The following are ideas for ways to follow up the project.
  • Sustrans organise a variety of projects aimed at increasing numbers of children cycling to school, and of people cycling generally.
  • School Champions can be a teachers, parents or pupils who are intrinsically motivated to develop cycling. You can nominate yourself and Sustrans will provide starter packs on what to do and application forms.
  • Safe Routes to Schools focusses on measures that can be incorporated at the level of highways infrastructure.
  • Change Your World is a project organised by Sustrans. The idea is to commit to swapping one car journey a week to going by bike.
  • Bike It is a project that has achieve massive success at a variety of schools

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Trip Switch - Transition Stroud and Stroud District Council